BEIJING • China yesterday called on the United States to block the transit of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who will stop over in the country en route to Paraguay and Belize.
Beijing views Taiwan as part of its own territory - to be reunified by force if necessary - and has stepped up military and diplomatic pressure since independence- leaning Ms Tsai came to power in 2016.
Washington has diplomatically recognised Beijing over Taipei since 1979, but it remains a staunch military ally of Taiwan, a relationship that has long rankled the Communist Party leadership on the mainland.
At a regular press briefing yesterday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang urged Washington "not to allow the transit by the so-called Taiwan leader".
"We have always been firmly opposed to any kind of such transit arranged in the US or other countries with diplomatic ties with China," Mr Geng said, adding that Beijing has "launched solemn representations to the US side" on the matter.
Ms Tsai is set to stop over in Los Angeles and Houston during the trip set for Aug 12 to 20, Taiwanese officials said on Monday.
Beijing bristles at any moves by countries that might lend Taiwan diplomatic support or legitimacy. China reacted with alarm when President Donald Trump took a congratulatory phone call from Ms Tsai shortly after his 2016 election, the first time since 1979 that a US leader had spoken directly with his counterpart in Taiwan.